Last Night’s X-Files Episode Made The Whole Revival Worth It

Last Night’s X-Files Episode Made The Whole Revival Worth It
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The X-Files revival didn’t get off to a promising start two weeks ago, but if the disappointing premiere scared you off, it’s time to come back. Last night’s episode, “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” was the series at its best.

“I forgot how much fun these cases can be,” muses Scully at one point.

You and me both, Scully.

First, a little history. Episode writer and director Darin Morgan is known for his contributions to The X-Files, but even then, it’s only a handful of episodes — Morgan doesn’t write much, The X-Files or no. But when he gets around to it, it’s spectacular, as evidenced by this murderers’ row of fascinating stories:

  • “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space'”
  • “War of the Coprophages”
  • “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”
  • “Humbug”

(Shocking side note: apparently Morgan was wore the Flukeman suit?!)

There’s an interesting through line between those episodes: humour. Given how darkly serious The X-Files is most of the time, it’s easy to forget how damn funny the show could be. Granted, the reason those episodes worked so well is because of tonal whiplash; the wacky feel was a welcomed breath of fresh air.

This episode’s setup is simple: there are reports of a green “monster” attacking people. With no other explanation in sight, Mulder and Scully are brought in.

“Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” makes few references to the confusing, mythology-shaking events from the premiere, nor the relationship building that happened between the two in the second episode. (Which, for the record, I liked quite a bit.) It feels like we’re in the middle of a random season for The X-Files, not a mini-series event that will be gone in the flash of an eye.

But while it could have been dropped into the series’ past, clever writing gives it a bigger impact in the present. The episode opens with Mulder tossing darts at his “I Want to Believe” poster, bemoaning how his favourite “mysteries” have been explained by science or Occam’s razor: they were faked. He’s devoted so much of his life to investigating these quirky events, and it might have been for nothing. Mulder represents a desire for the world to be slightly more spectacular than it really is, but if science can explain everything, does that make it boring?

There’s a particularly great sequence where Mulder has a conversation with himself in front of of Scully, as he plays out the ways she typically responds to his outlandish theories. If The X-Files wants to propose that time has made Mulder, the eternal optimist, into a cynic, it’s an interesting angle. They failed to make a credible case for that when the series started, but here, it works.

If Mulder no longer believes, who will? I’ll follow you down that hole, X-Files.

This isn’t meant to be a recap of “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” but I can tell you it’s very good. The twists are genuinely unexpected, and it’s funny as hell. It’s not purely absurdist, either; this episode has something to say about Mulder, Scully, The X-Files, and human nature. Like I said, a curve ball.

(Disappointing side note: Jezebel author Julianne Escobedo Shepherd has some insightful observations about the episode’s fumbled attempt to talk about transgender issues. I was scratching my head during that bit, as well.)

Though we’re only getting six episodes of The X-Filesfor now — I’m delighted the powers that be gave this beloved but underappreciated corner of the series a shout-out. “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” is not only the best episode in this run of The X-Files so far, but a genuinely great episode — period.

I’m still cackling at Mulder trying to use his “new camera app,” by the way.



  • Yeh I said to my fiancée that it seems like all they are doing is “conspiracy” episodes and that would really suck.
    Much to my surprise, they went ahead and made one of the best quirky episodes I’ve ever seen. Haven’t laughed so hard in ages!

  • I’m glad they did a wacky episode in this series, I always loved it when they poke fun at themselves (much like when they do it in Star Trek).

    Also Rhys Darby is always great.

  • I had the bar set pretty low for the revival. The show was really poor at the end so it’s its pretty difficult for this run to tarnish the shows legacy unless its worse than season 9 . A single Darin Morgan episode alone means it can’t be.

  • Loved it. My wife isn’t a fan of the x files but for once she put down her phone for 2 seconds and had a good laugh.

  • Missed out probably one of the greatest of the “not taking themselves seriously” episodes: The Post-Modern Prometheus. Come on! 🙂 Don’t leave out the good stuff! 🙂

    I’m a hardcore fan. I own all seasons that were available on VHS, all the DVDs and have watched the entire series numerous times.. so if anyone is going to be critical of that first rebooted episode, it would be me. I hated the 2nd movie.. it was just pathetic.. but that first episode of the reboot was actually quite good. Certainly not as good as the 2nd episode.. that was awesome. I read the reviews about the first episode before watching, they were all quite bad.. then I watched the first episode myself and loved it. Not sure where all the hate came from.. critics being critical I guess? Non-fans not understanding all the references? Fans that wanted more? Not sure..

    • Having now seen episode 3, I’m more than a little disappointed. The first half was not too bad, but the second half.. WTF was that? Certainly not X-Files… that whole section of dialog between Mulder and “the person of interest”.. WTF…

      I’d put this one in the category of the “COPS” parody episode called “X-Cops”.. in fact there are a lot of similarities between the two episodes. The difference though was that X-Cops maintained the air of mystery throughout and dropped in a lot of in-jokes, but still with the X-Files feeling and direction. Last night’s episode was just a bit “meh”.

  • I’m not going to agree with or enjoy reading critiques of these when it’s just one of two extremes: “it sucked” is just as bad as “redeemed completely!”

    Reckon I might wait until they are all out and binge them, cos that’s hopefully the optimal way to watch this season?

    I want to believe this won’t be a total loss!

  • Personally I feel the first episode was pretty good as it allowed for the show/short-series to start fresh. Why is starting fresh important to the X-Files? Two main things A) Times have changed B) The last few seasons of the X-Files were weak; a kinder description would be to say they were rushed (especially the final season).

    Regarding A) The X-Files is considered one of the most important TV shows in TV culture particularly due to the show being credited for causing disbelief and sceptism by Americans of their own government. Much of the show was based on revealing cover ups and black ops to the world/U.S. people. If that style of show persisted this X-Files short-season would just seem outdated and rather irrelevant.

    Now if you’re actually up-to-date with your conspiracy theories and conspiracy history you would find that the X-Files has used current trends and exposing them to the world; and yes there is some plausibility of the concepts used in episode one. One of the plausible concepts being the idea of energy companies (and governments) having suppressed the development of alternative renewable/free energy technology. There are other things like the role of social media that were introduced into the series and when you consider how episode one pieced these various things together that you would actually see how clever it actually was.

    I doubt I would have appreciated the episode quite as much as I did if it weren’t for my brother having schizophrenia which through his paranoia had already exposed me to the elements episode one contained. With that in mind I think episode one did a great job at introducing these things to a populace where the strong majority would not have any idea about.

    Regarding B) I doubt anyone would want to see a direct full fledged continuation of the story that was constructed back then; instead The X-Files has wisely begun a new story and has carefully and cleverly used segments from the previous story. People need to remember that this is pretty unprecedented: this isn’t a reboot where the IP just starts over again; this is a continuation of an IP where 14 years has passed between seasons. There has only been a single movie addition to the IP during those years which in terms of content addition only really contributed how the personal lives of the two lead characters had changed.

    As for episode 3 – it was pretty great huh? As someone who had a boyhood crush on Scully – that scene showed Scully/Gillian Anderson still has it!

    • I’ve been watching it on TV so I haven’t seen episode 3 yet but I was super impressed with the first one back given that it a) managed to wash away the taste of the last two seasons of the show and b) come up with an interesting conspiracy without dredging up the very convoluted original mythology.

      There is precedent for this though – original Star Trek, show ended in 1969, cast reunited 10 years later and started making movies that continued on from the original series.

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